Thursday, 26 March 2015
Five Things My UniBreak to India Taught Me
1. Teaching skills
Books may teach you all about the psychology of teaching children; that silent high achievers need more attention, attention seekers indeed should not be given too much attention and so much more, yet it is only during this demanding yet rewarding placement that you actually discover, day by day, how to teach and how to best facilitate their learning. Teaching in two different age groups in two different settings allows us to experience and learn more and it is the committed five-days-a-week teaching that taught us the teacher's way of life and how and what to teach.
2. Learnt and understood cultural paradigms
I would not say I have experienced much cultural shock because I have been reading books about India, as well as literature such as Shantaram prior to arrival. Nevertheless, week by week, I slowly learnt and understood the Indian way of life, not by reading about it, but by participating and living in it. From the little talks with staff, the children, even watching Bollywood movies, you get to progressively understand what Indian people prefer, value, respect and what they expect of you.
3. The ability to travel around the world
After applying for the almost-impossible-to-get Indian visa, the various unpleasant, aching vaccines, booking your own flights and packing your bag, I would say I feel more competent and comfortable in travelling around the world.
4. Communication and interpersonal skills
The language barrier was definitely one of my main concerns prior to arrival, but surprisingly our coordinator Pankaj and Minakshi, and our chef Meena Ji all speak perfect English, even the children are pretty competent as a result of many volunteer’s continuous and propitious teaching. Nevertheless, it is a still bit challenging when trying to teach the children, especially if you’re trying to teach them a new concept or extend the syllabus. But I will strongly suggest you not to let the language barrier put you off. You have to constantly step out of your comfort zone because at the end of the day, you are here to teach the children. And I can assure you that not only will you feel so rewarded when you see their progress as the weeks pass, but you will always acquire the transferable skills that every employer seeks – communication skills.
5. The Indian way of life
From my counting in Hindi to doing Henna art to wrapping ourselves in saris, all I can say is volunteering and staying in the same place for 6 weeks really presents you with experiences, involvement and insight that tourists would not give (although I have to admit even after my 6-week stay, I still struggle to wrap myself in a 5 metre long fabric called a sari despite my countless attempts!) Oh well, what can I say? I guess you just have to stay even longer!